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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 6;8(8):e69454. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069454. Print 2013.

Assessment of urinary betaine as a marker of diabetes mellitus in cardiovascular patients.

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Section for Cardiology, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.


Abnormal urinary excretion of betaine has been demonstrated in patients with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. We aimed to identify the main predictors of excretion in cardiovascular patients and to make initial assessment of its feasibility as a risk marker of future diabetes development. We used data from 2396 patients participating in the Western Norway B-vitamin Intervention Trial, who delivered urine and blood samples at baseline, and in the majority at two visits during follow-up of median 39 months. Betaine in urine and plasma were measured by liquid-chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The strongest determinants of urinary betaine excretion by multiple regression were diabetes mellitus, age and estimated glomerular filtration rate; all p<0.001. Patients with diabetes mellitus (n = 264) had a median excretion more than three times higher than those without. We found a distinct non-linear association between urinary betaine excretion and glycated hemoglobin, with a break-point at 6.5%, and glycated hemoglobin was the strongest determinant of betaine excretion in patients with diabetes mellitus. The discriminatory power for diabetes mellitus corresponded to an area under the curve by receiver-operating characteristics of 0.82, and betaine excretion had a coefficient of reliability of 0.73. We also found a significant, independent log-linear relation between baseline betaine excretion and the risk of developing new diabetes during follow-up. The good discriminatory power for diabetes, high test-retest stability and independent association with future risk of new diabetes should motivate further investigation on the role of betaine excretion in risk assessment and long-term follow-up of diabetes mellitus.

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